Nikola Jokic put on one of the best displays of complete basketball many of us have seen in recent years, completing a triple-double in just over 14 minutes of play. In 14 minutes and 33 seconds, Jokic posted 16 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists to go along with a steal and two blocks, firmly placing his name in the history books as the fastest recorded triple-double in NBA history. Utter dominance against a tough Milwaukee Bucks team, featuring another elite 7-footer in Giannis Antetokounmpo. Behind the back passes, three-pointers, put-back lay-ups on offensive rebounds, “The Joker” came to play from the jump last night and was aggressive early and often. Bucks’ Center Thon Maker was clearly over-matched as Jokic posted him repeatedly, bullied him under the basket for offensive rebounds and passed through lackadaisical defense to rack up assists.
Giannis tried his best to out-duel Jokic, and posted a monster stat-line of his own in a losing effort. The Greek Freak finished with 36 points, 13 assists, 11 rebounds and three blocks as the Joker finished with 30 points, 17 assists, 15 rebounds, two blocks and a steal in 33 minutes of play. In the last 30 years, no other center has recorded that stat-line. In fact, the closest that a center has come to duplicating it was a 29-13-14 line posted by…Nikola Jokic. He joined elite company as the sixth player ever to record 30-15-15 in a single game; the others being James Harden, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson and Wilt Chamberlain. When reminded of this feat after the game all he had t say was “um…Thank You”.
The Denver Nuggets won the game 134-123 and head into the All-Star break as one of the hottest teams in the Western Conference. Winning three games in a row and seven of the last 10, the Nuggets are riding the back of Nikola Jokic as he’s been on a tear offensively. In the last 10 games, he’s averaging 19.9 points, 9.1 assists, 11.6 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 0.9 blocks in just under 33 minutes per game. His efficiency has been off the charts as well; in that span he’s posted 53.3% FG, 47.2% 3P and 86.4% FT shooting splits. Including last night, he has recorded four triple-doubles and two double-doubles in the last 10.
Denver is now only a half-game behind the Oklahoma City Thunder for the fifth seed and 2.5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves who are in third and fourth respectively. With the Nuggets trending upward and the return of Paul Millsap approaching, they may be able to not only get home court advantage in the first round, but in the second round as well if they advance.
In order to keep the momentum flowing, the Nuggets should focus on staying healthy, improving defensively in Millsap’s absence and continue to ride the fiery hot play of their franchise cornerstone. Once Millsap returns, it is important for chemistry to continue to build on both ends. If this team wants to make a splash in the playoffs and get to the second round, they will have to become more consistent. For now, Mike Malone has to be pleased with how his team has performed heading in the break.